The most prolific marine ecosystem on earth is being systematically destroyed on orders of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Where the BP oil spill failed miserably, Obama’s Dept. of the Interior now triumphs.
First came the “moratorium” on Gulf drilling. “That’s kicking a man when he’s already down,” said former offshore oil worker (and current country music superstar) Trace Adkins last May in an interview with CNN. The Obama administration itself admits to 8-12,000 job losses in Louisiana from the moratorium. But Louisiana now has 25,000 more unemployed than before the moratorium, which continues de facto in the form of stonewalling and lollygagging on the issuance of new drilling permits. So, that “man” is still down and reeling from federal kicks.
Another kick came last September in the form of a federal “notice to lessees.” “As part of our sustained effort to improve the safety of energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf and strengthen environmental protections,” decreed U.S. Dept. of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last September 15, “We are notifying offshore operators of their legal responsibility to decommission and dismantle their facilities when production is completed.”
Dismantling their production platforms could cost oil operators “$6 billion to $18 billion in lost future production,” according to a report by Mark Kaiser and Allan Pulsipher of the Louisiana State University Center for Energy Studies.
The federal government, however, is unmoved by such projections. Production? Costs? Profits?—come on! Where’s the federal “environmental expert” affected by such stuff?
So let’s try this: the most prolific and “diverse marine ecosystem” ever recorded by marine scientists was created by the “facilities” the U.S. Dept. of the Interior is hell-bent on dismantling (offshore oil platforms). Acting as artificial reefs over the past half century, the natural beauty, teeming fish life, coral colonies, and “bio-diversity,” created by these structures is amply documented in several studies commissioned by none other than the U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
One recent report by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Minerals (a division of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior) boasts that _“_fish densities are 20 to 50 times higher at oil and gas platforms than in nearby Gulf water, and each platform seasonally serves as critical habitat for 10 to 20 thousand fishes.”
In fact, “villainous” Big Oil produces marine life at rates that puts to shame “wondrous” Earth Goddess Gaia. “The fish Biomass around an offshore oil platform is ten times greater per unit area than for natural coral reefs,” found Dr. Charles Wilson of LSU’s Dept. of Oceanography and Coastal Science (emphasis added). ”Ten to thirty thousand adult fish live around an oil production platform in area half the size of a football field.” For proof click on this video.
An LSU study found that 75 per cent of all offshore fishing trips in Louisiana target these fish-teeming “reefs.” Recreational fishing and diving trips to these structures generate an estimated 5,560 full time jobs and $324 million annually for Louisiana. But Salazar’s decree now forces oil producers to plug 3,500 non-producing wells and dismantle about 650 platforms by 2020. These represent 800 acres of critical Marine habitat. 80 per cent of these oil production “facilities,” by the way, are owned by independent producers rather than “Big Oil” companies such as Exxon or BP.
The feds mandated this dismantling and plugging from the days the very first platforms went up over half a century ago. But production from these wells wasn’t a simple matter of letting them gush until the oil ran out. “Many wells fall idle when extracting the oil becomes unprofitable at a certain price,” explains Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association. “Plugging wells and tearing down platforms will ultimately lead to the loss of oil from idled wells that would become attractive for further production down the road as the price of energy rises, but not if the companies have to rebuild the infrastructure to tap it.”
Environmentalists like to look at this as oil companies hoarding their product in order to “price gouge” us. Others call it the law of supply and demand. And if it’s “not nice to fool mother nature,” history shows it’s even more catastrophic to try and fool markets. The point is, historically, federal rules proved elastic, even by federal standards. A modus vivendi had existed where platforms remained standing and wells unplugged until “one year after the lease [by the oil producer from the feds] expired,” rather than until “production stopped.”
No longer. The Obama team has cracked the whip. “We have placed the [oil] industry on notice that they will be held to the highest standards of planning and operations in developing leases,” stressed Sec. Ken Salazar.
Accidently drop your boat anchor over coral off the Florida coast and you’ll be fined up to $25,000 pursuant to federal regulations. Catch and keep a Gag Grouper, Amberjack or more than 2 Red Snapper per fishing trip in any U.S. federal waters and you’ll be fined $600 per fish, pursuant to federal regulations.
Yet endangered coral in the Gulf of Mexico is being blown up, blow-torched, and winched out of the Gulf by the ton to bleach in scrapyards – as mandated by federal regulations. Tons of Red Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack and thousands of other “endangered” or “threatened” fish species are being dynamited in the Gulf of Mexico and left as shark-chum—as mandated by the same federal regulations. Most of these “facilities,” you see, are “dismantled” with explosives detonated around their legs below the Gulf floor. Behold the usual collateral damage here.
“It smells like death here,” said Texas fishing captain Brent Casey about a Gulf coast scrapyard piled with sections of dismantled oil platforms. “I wish you could see these 75-foot piles of metal covered in coral. It’s just insane. Forty years of habitat – gone.”
Not exactly “gone.” After the production of endangered fish stops and the endangered coral is sandblasted off, the habitat is mostly sold as scrap metal to China, as reported by David Sikes of the The Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
So, where are the greenies on this, you ask?
They’re with the despoilers. “This [Dept. of Interior decree] is an important first step in cleaning up what’s become a dumping ground for the offshore oil and gas industry,” said Peter Galvin of the Center for Biological Diversity. Galvin’s Center, by the way, bemoans the fate of the Earth’s coral reefs in particular, and filed a petition with the feds to place 83 species of corals (including several that thrive on those very offshore oil platforms) on the Endangered Species list. “The world’s corals and coral reef ecosystems—these rainforests of the sea– are in crisis,” wails the Center for Biological Diversity. “In just a few decades all their rich biodiversity could disappear completely.”
“Global warming,” needless to add, is the culprit according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The marine habitat responsible for this proliferation of (so-called) endangered species from coral to Gag Grouper is human-made, you see. And as PETA chieftain Ingrid Newkirk observed: “Humans are the biggest blight on the face of the Earth.” Earth Goddess Gaia certainly helped the proliferation of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico—but only by piggy-backing on habitat erected by this infernal “blight” known as man. Worse still, this amazing marine habitat was created by the Snideley Whiplash/Darth Vader of Greenie nightmares: oil companies.
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